HDTV: 10 Top Trends Coming to a Screen Near You in 2010

Flash forward to about a year from now, if you will. Envision yourself walking into a consumer electronics store toward the end of 2010. What kinds of HDTV products and features is your retail salesperson likely to tout?

LCD flat panel TVs will gain even more predominance by then, while plasma sets will slip some in popularity, according to industry analysts at iSuppli. Projection and OLED TVs will still occupy smaller niches, with projection TVs falling somewhat, and OLEDs rising.

But TV makers of all persuasions will keep vying for your dollars with new bells and whistles, experts say.

On the LCD TV side, emerging features about to go mainstream in 2010 include LED backlighting, 240 Hertz (Hz) refresh rates and Internet connectivity. Also next year, more LCD vendors will move beyond 1080p HDTV resolution to 2160p, although not yet at a price that’s affordable to every household.

Plasma and OLED TVs will both grow larger in size, while in projection TVs, laser will see the most action.

A new specification from the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is about to fuel the introduction of more 3D TVs across the LCD, plasma, and OLED categories.

But new legislation passed this year in California could start to imperil the continued existence of power-guzzling plasma sets, says Jon Peddie, principal analyst at Jon Peddie Research (JPR).

Here, in no particular order of importance, are ten top HDTV trends for 2010.

LCDs with LED Backlighting

LCD TVs have long been backlit by florescent lighting panels dubbed CCFLs. But newer LED backlight holds three advantages, according to Peddie.

“They use less power,” Peddie says. LEDs also produce a wider range of luminance, and, unlike florescent panels, LEDs are non-toxic.

“But while the advantages appear abundant, the cost of LED backlights is fairly high,” says Riddhi Patel, principal analyst for television systems at iSuppli. Other challenges include thermal issues, concerns related to the LED lifetime, and continuing improvements in traditional CCFLs.

Prices, though, are already starting to decline on LEDs, as consumer demand for LEDs increases and more manufacturers move into LED production, the iSuppli analyst says.

In July, Sharp introduced a series of 32-, 40-, 46- and 52-inch LED-backlit AQUOS units at prices ranging from $1100 to $2800. An even larger 55-inch LED-backlit set from Samsung, the UN50B650, can now be bought online for about $2500.

240Hz Refresh Rates

The first crop of HDTVs offered screen refresh rates of 60 hertz (Hz), while later sets stepped up to 120Hz. Sony kicked off a move to 240H

z with a 52-inch model unveiled late last year, following up with six new Bravia XBR9 models at CES 2009. Manufacturers such as LG and Samsung then followed suit.

But the 240Hz refresh rate is controversial. Some experts argue that the difference between 120Hz and 240Hz isn’t detectable unless you’re displaying fast action, such as a video game or sporting event – or even that consumers won’t notice any difference.

You still pay more for the 240Hz spec than for a 120Hz refresh rate, although pricing is tumbling for both specs, says Tina Tseng, a television systems analyst at iSuppli. For example, back in February 2009, the average selling price (ASP) of a 240Hz 40-inch full HD LCD TV was $2800, in contrast to just $1651 for a comparable 120Hz 40-inch set.

By December of this year, ASPs had fallen to only $1,596 for a 240Hz 40-inch full HD LCD TV and $1195 for a 120Hz 40-inch set.

Shown here (above right) is LG’s LH90 Series Trumotion 240Hz LED HDTV, available in 42-, 47- and 55-inch models.

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